Sonia, Rahul attack Centre, say it failed people
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday demanded an all-party meeting on the coronavirus disease pandemic, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of failing the people of India and announced that the Congress’ organization would enhance its relief activities, even as party leader Rahul Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister that the Centre’s failures at managing the pandemic’s second wave have made another “devastating national lockdown almost inevitable.”
In the first Congress Parliamentary Party meeting after the recent assembly elections where the party was decimated everywhere except in Tamil Nadu where it was the junior partner in the winning alliance, Sonia Gandhi said that a Congress Working Committee meeting will soon be called to review the results.
“But it goes without saying that we as a party collective must draw appropriate lessons from this setback in a spirit of humility and honesty.” She congratulated Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, DMK chief M.K. Stalin and the Left parties for their “handsome victories” in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and said, “Most unfortunately, our own performance in all the states was very disappointing and if I may say, unexpectedly so.”
The Congress failed to win Assam, Kerala and Puducherry, and drew a blank in West Bengal .
Underlining that the fighting Covid is not “a “Government versus Us” battle but a “Us versus Corona” battle,” she demanded that the PM should call an all-party meeting as “we have to fight this battle together as a nation.”
“Let us be absolutely clear – the system hasn’t failed. The Modi government has been unable to constructively channelize India’s many strengths and resources. I say this categorically -- India is crippled by a political leadership today that has no empathy for the people. The Modi Government has failed the people of our country,” Sonia Gandhi said in the CPP meeting.
The Congress president accused Modi of abdicating a government’s fundamental responsibilities and duties towards the people and argued that the Centre had “refused to strengthen the supply-chains for oxygen, medicine, and ventilators” and “failed to place” sufficient orders for vaccines and “Instead, it consciously chose to allocate thousands of crores for non-essential projects that have nothing to do with the peoples’ well-being.” The last was a reference to the Central Vista projects.
Rahul Gandhi’s letter cautioned against the “uncontrollable spread” of this virus. He offered four suggestions to slow its spread: track the virus and its mutations, dynamically assess the efficacy of all vaccines against mutations, rapidly vaccinate India’s entire population, and remain “transparent and keep the rest of the world informed about our findings.”
Rahul Gandhi also demanded financial, food and transportation support “to prevent a repeat of the manifold suffering caused by last year’s lockdown.”
“I am aware that you are concerned about the economic impact of a lockdown. Inside and outside India, the human cost of allowing this virus to continue its march unimpeded will result in many more tragic consequences for our people than any purely economic calculations your advisors are suggesting,” his letter reasoned.
In the meeting, Abhishek Manu Singhvi gave suggestions such as the party should set up a fund by imposing a uniform “Congress Covid Charge” on all its members and the money can be used for medical activities such as buying oxygen cylinders and medicines. He also suggested creation of an IT portal and aid for poor people. Leaders such as DK Suresh, Nasir Hussain, Saptagiri Ulaka and Ripun Bora described the prevailing Covid situation in their areas.
Several leaders praised Rahul Gandhi, who didn’t speak at all. Francisco Sardinha said he had tried to open the eyes of Modi but it fell on deaf ears. Punjab MP Jasbir Singh Gill tried to raise the election issue, but Sonia Gandhi told him that the CWC would discuss it separately.
Sonia also maintained that the vaccination policy will exclude millions backward people as well as the poor and the marginalized. Claiming that “the nation is sinking under the weight of the Modi government’s indifference and incompetence” she added that the Congress would “enhance and streamline” its relief efforts and that “efforts must be made to organize ambulances, temporary beds, oxygen concentrators and necessary medicines.”
The work being done by the Youth Congress, which has run a more effective helpline that some states and Union Territories, also came in for praise from the party president.